The United States Commission on Civil Rights unanimously voted to look into the civil rights impact of state-enacted immigration enforcement laws, with a special focus on Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
The bipartisan agency is charged with monitoring federal civil rights enforcement and making recommendations to Congress and the president. Commissioners serve six-year terms.
In these cases, the commission says it will analyze whether the state-enacted immigration enforcement laws have adversely affected the civil rights of both naturalized and native-born U.S. citizens and non-citizen immigrants on the basis of color, race, and/or national origin, and whether they cause a denial of equal protection in the administration of justice.
Obama-appointed Commission Chairman Martin R. Castro stated, “I believe that the enactment of these state immigration enforcement laws presents a pressing national civil rights issue that affects immigrants and U.S. citizens alike.”
While there are civil rights advisory commissions in each state, the national commission will receive testimony by four different panels in early 2012.
AUDIO: Excerpt of Castro interview. (5:48)
Members include Castro and Commissioners Roberta Achtenberg, Todd Gaziano, Gail Heriot, Peter Kirsanow, David Kladney, Abigail Thernstrom, and Michael Yaki—four Democrats and four Conservatives. The decision of the panel is not legally binding but five of the eight members must agree in order for a statement to be approved.